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Ballot on British government’s fresh offer to barristers
Pic: RollingNews.ie

29 Sep 2022 / global news Print

Solicitors demand parity on fees increase

The Law Society of England and Wales says it is considering advising solicitors not to undertake criminal-defence work.

It is holding meetings with British government ministers, after the Ministry of Justice announced a new offer to criminal barristers in a bid to end their strike action.

Barristers were offered an increase of 15% in legal-aid fees under the proposals, but the Law Society said that a rise of just 9% was being proposed for solicitors.

Offer ‘short-sighted’

The solicitors’ body warned that the criminal-justice system would collapse unless the British government funded all parts of the system equally.

“The criminal-justice system is in crisis, and the government is falling way short of addressing it. You cannot fix the problems in the system unless you fund all parts of it effectively,” said society president I Stephanie Boyce.

“Reaching a compromise with criminal barristers but not providing parity for solicitors is short-sighted, given it is solicitors who make up the greater part of the criminal-defence sector,” she stated.

Boyce said that an independent review commissioned by the British government had made it clear that solicitors were in an even worse financial situation than their counterparts.

“They are not taking short-term disruptive action. They are simply leaving the profession permanently, in ever greater numbers, because the work is not financially viable,” said Boyce.

‘Exodus of solicitors’ warning

She warned that even more solicitors would leave criminal work for good if the government did not “get its act together”.

“Without them, the system will collapse, and justice will not be served for victims, witnesses and defendants,” Boyce said, adding that an exodus of solicitors would have a far greater impact that the barristers’ strike.

She warned that, if solicitors did not get parity with barristers on the 15% increase, the Ministry of Justice “will have made it clear that there is no future in criminal-defence practice, and we will advise our members not to undertake this work”.

Earlier, the justice ministry said that criminal barristers had agreed to vote on ending strike action, after discussions with lord chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Brandon Lewis (pictured).

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland